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May 07, 2014

How to Establish a Healthy Gut in Your Primal Baby

By Mark Sisson
99 Comments

Child Playing OutdoorsYes, folks: it’s another post about the gut. But today’s advice is geared toward all the Primal babies out there in preconception, in utero, and in diapers. Because for the first few years, they’re pretty helpless and ignorant in matters of the gut. They need your help to establish and maintain a healthy intestinal environment. They need your expertise and guidance and occasional intervention. And sometimes, as you’ll see, they need you to give them the freedom to do some often unpleasant-looking activities that pay dividends to longterm gut health.

Since most of the immune system resides in the gut, and the development of a kid’s gut microbiome is in many ways the development of his immune system, this turns out to be a helpful guide for parents interested in optimizing their child’s immune system.

Prenatal Considerations

Avoid obesity. Maternal obesity during the prenatal period creates an inflammatory placental environment that can predispose the offspring to gut issues after birth, including leaky gut and intestinal inflammation. So don’t become obese. And if you are, it’d be ideal to become less so before getting pregnant. This is best done before you get pregnant, as dieting during a pregnancy can be hard on everyone involved and not generally recommended.

Avoid gluten. Studies in diabetic rodents show that a maternal gluten-free diet can improve the gut barrier function and reduce the incidence of diabetes in the offspring, even in non-celiacs.

Take probiotics and eat fermented food. Although researchers used to think that infant guts were completely sterile before birth and only became seeded during their journey through the birth canal, new research is upturning that old assumption and leading scientists now say that the “tenet that healthy fetuses are sterile is insane.” Bacteria is found in amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, and the placenta. Colonization of a fetus’ gut begins in the womb. Maternal probiotic usage directly affects the gut microbes of the fetus.

Do the “do’s” and don’t do the “don’t”s listed in yesterday’s post on leaky gut. The nutrients your body uses to support the gut barrier are likely the same ones your body uses to support your growing child’s gut barrier. The environmental triggers and stressors that support and impair gut health in your body are likely to have the same effect on the body growing in your womb.

Birth Considerations

If possible, have a vaginal birth. Microbial colonization may start in utero, but the most important exposure to bacteria occurs as the baby travels down the birth canal, through the vagina, and into the world. This only happens in natural vaginal birth.

Home birth might be optimal (but it’s not necessary). One study out of Holland found that kids who were born at home and exclusively breastfed had the most “beneficial” gut microbiome. If you’re comfortable with home birth and are due to have a low risk pregnancy, give it some consideration.

Avoid unnecessary c-sections. Do not avoid c-sections if they are medically necessary. But if you’re faced with the option of a c-section or a vaginal birth, consider that babies born to c-sections are more likely to have decreased microbial diversity, impaired immune responses to stimuli, and lower colonization by beneficial bacteria. Boys born via c-section are more likely to have Crohn’s disease and babies of both sexes born via c-section are more likely to develop celiac.

In the event of a c-section, give your baby probiotics. Studies show that breastfeeding after a c-section isn’t quite enough to make up the differences in gut flora, so an infant probiotic with the right strains can really come in handy. I also wonder if a vaginal swab from the mother applied to the baby’s mouth and body directly after a c-section would help properly inoculate the gut. Good luck getting your OB to agree to that one!

Postnatal Considerations

Breastfeed. This is the most important one. Breast milk contains probiotics that colonize your baby’s gut and prebiotics that feed the probiotics in your baby’s gut. Chances are, breast milk probably contains other compounds yet to be discovered that also have a beneficial effect on gut health. Be sure to eat a good diet, because the food and nutrients you eat will make it into your milk.

Try goat-based formula if you go that route. Formulas based on goat milk instead of cow milk (or soy) result in infant fecal bacteria most similar to fecal bacteria from breast-fed babies. That goat milk contains similar glycans as human milk could explain the similarity.

Look for formula with prebiotics. An important component of human breast milk are the human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), prebiotics that feed, nurture, and promote the establishment of healthy gut flora in the baby. HMOs aren’t yet commercially available, but some prebiotics have been shown to come fairly close. One recent trial found that an inulin-fos blend (this one, to be exact) promoted “a gut microbiota closer to that of breastfeeding.” Is it as good as breast milk? No. Better than nothing, though.

Let them play outdoors. Outdoor play is pro-gut for several reasons. If there’s sun out, your kid will get plenty of vitamin D – an important nutrient for the integrity of the gut lining. If they’re outdoors, they’re probably getting exposure to dirt. Dirt is full of microbes (both “good” and “bad”) and the human gut (having evolved in an unsterile, natural environment, i.e. the outdoors) is primed for constant, low level exposure to these soil-based organisms. Playing outdoors, making mud pies, and sampling the culinary offerings of garden soil all help seed the gut. And finally, kids who are allowed outdoor free play are less stressed, less anxious, and happier than kids who are not. Increased stress levels can wreak havoc on the gut by inducing intestinal permeability (PDF) and affecting the stability of microbial populations.

Let them play with other kids – even (or especially) the “dirty ones.” Provided you’ve been following as many of the previously mentioned steps as you can, your kid will have a robust immune system and a healthy microbiome that can handle and even benefit from exposure to other child-borne microbes.

Don’t freak out if they eat their boogers. The idea that eating boogers boosts immunity is intuitive, but unproven. One Canadian researcher actually wants to run a human trial to determine if it’s true or not. I don’t want parents to start home brewing booger smoothies drawn from healthy donor noses. That’s extreme (and disgusting). But if you see your kid pick his or her nose and eat it, don’t worry so much. It could be helping. Besides, they’ll do it anyway when you’re not looking.

Don’t demand antibiotics at the first hint of sickness. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: antibiotics have done us a lot of good, but they are extremely powerful tools that deserve respect rather than carelessness. New guidelines for childhood ear infections echo my concerns and actually urge caution when it comes to antibiotic prescriptions, citing research that shows most kids get over ear infections on their own within 2-3 days without antibiotics. And many childhood illnesses (like viral ones) don’t even respond to antibiotics, but parents still demand them anyway. Don’t be one of those parents.

Doing all these thing doesn’t guarantee good gut health for your baby, but based on the current levels of evidence available, it’s probably your best shot.

What did I miss? Got any other tips for parents interested in optimizing their baby’s gut health?

Thanks for reading.

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99 Comments on "How to Establish a Healthy Gut in Your Primal Baby"

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Melissa
Melissa
2 years 4 months ago

My sister has been telling me about boogies boosting immunity for years lol

Benjamin Thomas
2 years 4 months ago

“Now kids, you can’t have dessert until you eat your boogers… they’ll make you big and strong.” BARF.

Jessica
Jessica
2 years 4 months ago
It’s hard for us because my husband and I are both military and thus have very busy schedules. Getting enough outside ourselves is hard enough, not to mention the baby! I try and set aside at least 15 minutes, optimally 30, of time outside of supervised play time. This is good for parents without fences, and also of babies who are too little to play alone (like my 11 month old). That way we can all get outside to get sun, exercise and dirt without the worry of accidents or strangers. I would be outside for HOURS every day if… Read more »
Shary
Shary
2 years 4 months ago
Regarding babies “innoculated” with beneficial bacteria via vaginal birth… Is there really any proof of this, or is it just another of those overly-simplistic ideas that gets passed around but has no basis in fact? There are literally millions of kids who were delivered by Caesarian section who weren’t “impaired” as children and have grown up to be perfectly healthy individuals. I happen to know a few, who would undoubtedly laugh at the notion that they had an “inferior” birth. Babies do acquire plenty of bacteria from a variety of sources right from Day One. In fact it’s almost unavoidable… Read more »
Armel
Armel
2 years 4 months ago
There are many studies that show that babies are optimally seeded through a vaginal birth vs. a C section. Actually, a Cesarean is actually associated with being seeded with a lot of pathogenic bacteria that is present in hospitals. Babies born via Cesarean have been shown to have higher rates of asthma, and a theory proposed for this is that it is due to their microbiotic exposure (or lack thereof) during a C-section. Babies do get a great deal of exposure to microbes just in life in general, but there is evidence that shows that the vaginal canal has a… Read more »
nnmlly
2 years 4 months ago
The vaginal vs C-section difference is well established via mapping of microbial populations in newborns (see reference below for some excellent maps of the difference). And these differences are being increasingly shown to predispose/correlate with a range of health states. If you were able to see the few c-sectioners that you know within the context of a large scale study, you may find that you see some interesting patterns. Fortunately, because health is not as simple as the presence/absence of a particular bacteria, there are lots of things that can help make up for a less-than-ideal start to life. Recent… Read more »
Rebecca H.
Rebecca H.
1 year 3 months ago

I also had a c-section and so I am very focused on making sure my baby gets the gut support he needs.

I have used probiotics daily, but could you tell me what you do? I would love to hear how you support your little girl.

Thank you

Mina
Mina
2 years 4 months ago

Amen!

Tiffany
Tiffany
2 years 4 months ago
An excerpt from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110651/ For example, Gronlund, et al 32 showed that the primary gut flora in infants born by cesarean delivery may be disturbed for up to 6 months after birth. Another study using culture based techniques showed that the mode of delivery was associated with differences in intestinal microbes 7 years after delivery. 33 The clinical relevance of these changes is unknown, and even longer follow-up is needed to establish how long-lasting these alterations of the primary gut flora can be. Nevertheless, there is accumulating evidence that intestinal bacteria play an important role in the postnatal development of… Read more »
annabelle
annabelle
2 years 4 months ago
It’s about seeding. There is strong evidence that C-section babies as a demographic are not “perfectly healthy,” as Armel mentioned. I remembered reading this section of this NYT article about a microbiome researcher: “At dinner, Knight told me that he was sufficiently concerned about such an eventuality that, when his daughter was born by emergency C-section, he and his wife took matters into their own hands: using a sterile cotton swab, they inoculated the newborn infant’s skin with the mother’s vaginal secretions to insure a proper colonization. A formal trial of such a procedure is under way in Puerto Rico.”… Read more »
Allison
2 years 4 months ago
I have also read that there are, in fact, obstetricians who are now deliberately “dosing” the skin of new babies born by c-section with swabs from the mother in an attempt to jump start colonization of beneficial bacteria. While the world is a dirty place, and babies do eventually get exposed to a lot of bacteria, it’s clear that the microbial community in the birth canal of a delivering mother is totally different than the microbes you might encounter in someone’s mouth, or off of the floor. There’s some really good information about this in Moises Velasquez Manoff’s book An… Read more »
Jacob
Jacob
2 years 4 months ago

A booger boosting smoothie…yeah I think I just threw up a little.

Janine
Janine
2 years 4 months ago

One thing is missing: don’t give your baby food that undermines all the good things that you can be doing. Like processed junk, sugar and all the rest…..
Great article!

Adam
Adam
2 years 4 months ago

For those in London, check out Nature Play

The perfect way to get your kids out into the Great Outdoors and discover stuff, get dirty, have fun all in fresh air

Set up as a free meet-up by a group of local mums

https://www.facebook.com/natureplayrichmondpark?fref=ts

Charlotte
Charlotte
2 years 4 months ago

Yay for Nature Play! I used to go with my little boy to the Sydenham Hill Woods one (SE London).

Natasha
Natasha
2 years 4 months ago
While I think most of this is great, I take high issue with the “home birth” suggestion. What exactly about the home birth in particular vs the exclusive breastfeeding would increase a better immune system? Is it the lack of drugs that a home birth would likely offer? It is completely possible to have a drug free birth at a hospital where you can have medical intervention in case it’s necessary. That’s exactly what I did, and I’m glad I didn’t listen to everyone suggesting a home birth because it was “more natural” and “better for the baby.” I was… Read more »
Erin
Erin
2 years 4 months ago

I think a homebirth would exclude exposing the baby to unwanted bacteria present in a hospital setting.
Homebirth midwives are extensively trained in dealing with pp hemorrhage and carry pitocin with them.

Kathleen
Kathleen
2 years 4 months ago

Another tip–stop it with the hand sanitizer. Seriously. I see parents all the time barking orders at their kids to use hand sanitizer after playing on the playground. Since they started taking carpets out of schools and adding hand sanitizer, kids have been getting sick more often. It is not normal for a kid to get sick every single week, but it seems to happen.

tkm
tkm
2 years 4 months ago

Really good point–and a lot of those anti-microbial substances have triclosan, rather than something more benign like alcohol, so you’re dosing yourself with antibiotic every time you use them. It’s obvious in retrospect–something antibacterial would necessarily have antibiotic in it–but I had to have it pointed out to me. Hand sanitizer is appalling.

Luke
2 years 4 months ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMhHzucl9lI

I instantly thought of this!

Jennifer L.
Jennifer L.
2 years 4 months ago
The teachers at my daughter’s school are always pushing the hand-sanitzer in lieu of hand-washing before snacks. It always disgust me when kids blow their noses for five minutes (in the charming-miss-the-tissue way of 4-6 year-olds) and then squirt some hand-sanitizer on it and rub it all around. Then they eat snack (or touch toys/pencils/whatever). Yuck! Nothing like ingesting the stuff. I tell my daughter to decline and wash her hands with water (since they likely use anti-bacterial soap, as well). It is awful stuff and should not be in classrooms–I taught kindergarten for a long time and I know… Read more »
2Rae
2Rae
2 years 4 months ago

+1 about the hand sanitizer!
At work we have a person who comes into our office (where there is a bottle on each desk) and uses it several times. I, being an old mother hen and all, tell him to make sure he washes his hands to get rid of what’s left. Better to just put some coconut oil on his hands but who, other than me, has that in their offices. Muwahahahahaha.

Zack
Zack
2 years 4 months ago

I’m interested in the connection between a baby’s gut flora and all the vaccines they are given.

Jenn (GH)
2 years 4 months ago
I just had a successful home birth. (Actually rv birth.) Although I didn’t do it for my baby’s gut. I did it bc it didn’t want to fight for my rights to birth naturally in the hospital. It was safer and healthier for me to birth at home then be forced to have another csection bc the doctors were “uncomfortable” with me having a vbac. Never mind it was my second vbac. Anyway oddly enough my firstborn who was a csection and was the recipient of my poor diet at the time has the strongest immune system in our family.… Read more »
AP
AP
2 years 4 months ago

I have the same issue with my boys – my first son was born via csection with all of the typical medical interventions & his immune system is much stronger than that of my youngest son who was born via all natural VBAC. Go figure! Any connections on this?

Shary
Shary
2 years 4 months ago

The connection is that medical science doesn’t know nearly as much as it thinks it does about microbes, babies, and gut flora.

Lyndy
Lyndy
2 years 4 months ago
Since finding out about the connection between vag delivery and establishment of the gut flora of the baby, I’ve worried that I disadvantaged my son by having a csection. However (at 14), he has so-far been very healthy and very seldom gets sick…..contrary to my sister’s 4 kids, all delivered vaginally, with multiple health problems and constant illness. My guess is this: healthy gut flora in mum = healthy gut flora in baby: unhealthy gut flora in mum = unhealthy gut flora in baby. If you have dysbiosis and deliver vaginally, your baby will probably have dysbiosis too. If you… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
2 years 4 months ago
I don’t think this is unusual. A relatively healthy woman who is pregnant for the first time has a body full of the proper vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and enzymes to produce a healthy baby. After this first baby is born her body is depleted. If she gets pregnant again very soon and does not eat enough nutrient dense foods to replenish herself, subsequent children will not be as healthy as the first. I have read (can’t remember where) that optimal child spacing with enough time to replenish the body with nutrient dense foods is 3 years or more. Most… Read more »
Cindy
2 years 4 months ago

I craved and ate tons of citrus while pregnant with my daughter and she is perfectly healthy. I craved and ate tons of bread with my son and at 5 he was diagnosed with Aspergers. Information I wish I’d had 20 years ago…

Jamie
Jamie
2 years 4 months ago
One more: do NOT follow the CW baby food intro (grain cereals at 4-6 months, processed purees 6-9 months, processed grain crunchies and small chopped “kids meal” stuff after that). You can puree fresh made things if you like, but it’s not needed. Instead, we offer small soft pieces of our real food: fruits, veggies, and meats, some time after 6 months old. If you have cheats with grains and dairy hold back on sharing that until later with baby. If your baby has a delicate gut or you feel the need to be extra careful, follow something like GAPS… Read more »
Chad
Chad
2 years 4 months ago

I’m glad to see your sharing Richard Nikoley’s (http://freetheanimal.com) information and data with the world. A big shout out to them for all the research and heavy work.

Drea
2 years 4 months ago
My additions would be that not only breastfeeding, but breastfeeding for *at least* 2 years is essential and the recommendation of the World Health Organization. Primal babies actually breastfed for up to 5-7 years on average. Also, an alternative to breastfeeding, if mom really cannot do so (women should have better access to lactation consultants to help with this, as it’s actually rare for a women to physically not be able to breastfeed) is to get donor milk, which is far superior to the goat formula. Also, skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth is essential, no matter how the child was… Read more »
tkm
tkm
2 years 4 months ago

seven years of breastfeeding? seriously?

Charlotte
Charlotte
2 years 4 months ago

My DH was breastfed for 7yrs. Grew up in an African village. He was a last born, I agree not all babies in traditional settings would be BF for that long. They do know how to space their children but 5 yrs is a big gap. (and no, I don’t think tandem feeding was usual – correct me if someone knows better).

hazel
hazel
2 years 4 months ago

How do you know primal babies breastfed until 5 or 7 years old? I would suggest that they weaned much earlier as the other children being born would need the milk more – I can’t imagine a primal mother breastfeeeding 4 or 5 children – she could just about cope with 2 or 3 at a push. Also the body stop producing lactase after 3 years so it may not be beneficial to keep feeding after this time as the child will not be able to digest milk any more.

Christine
Christine
2 years 4 months ago
The 5 to 7 years stat comes from a study comparing breastfeeding duration among primates and their development/ maturation and such and then comparing that to humans. Humans take a long time to be self sufficient so it stands to reason our breastfeeding should be extensive too. A more recent book by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, found a relationship between the baby’s length of nursing and the mother’s weight — it’s a pretty constant relationship among the primate groups — her analysis resulted in a range of 2.8-3.7 yrs. There’s a huffington post article with great graphs and… Read more »
Sydney Primal Cook
Sydney Primal Cook
2 years 4 months ago
Do we really need a breastfeeding militant here? I had enough of people like you when I had my first child telling me what I should have done including three lactation “specialists”. I KNOW all the facts about breastfeeding but try having a three day labour where both you and your child nearly die followed by extreme PND and a body that refuses to produce breast milk due to severe post-tramautic stress, constant illness from a worn down immune system (and I tried the breast milk drugs, they didn’t work for me enough to produce enough milk for more than… Read more »
Sofie
Sofie
2 years 4 months ago

How about not taking things so personally -.- She said it was rare, not impossible. And other mothers would rather see your baby die than feed it? Wow.

aysin
aysin
2 years 4 months ago
Carol
Carol
2 years 4 months ago
I’d like to highlight the advice to breastfeed as the number one best thing you can do for your baby’s gut development. One thing a lot of people don’t realise until they’ve had a baby is that breastfeeding is something you have to learn how to do, and it’s not always easy. And it’s a great idea to learn as much as you can before you have a baby, because when you have a tiny newborn screaming and it’s 3am, you don’t want to have to read twenty pages of advice on how to cope with a fast milk let-down… Read more »
salixisme
2 years 4 months ago

With regard to letting your kids play with the “dirty” kids…. my kids ARE the dirty ones most of the time!

shannon
shannon
2 years 4 months ago

Boogers: It’s what’s for dinner! Seriously, boogers are not just for kids. Grownups can eat boogers too. I prefer compost, but in a pinch, say when traveling, boogers come in handy.

Gym Queen
2 years 4 months ago

I was always told as a child to keep away from the kids who ran wild and played in open fields and puddles, and that it would apparently make me sick. I avoided their precautions anyway and turned out to be one of the healthiest kids.

I always think kids should be allowed to develop immunity and not smothered by antibiotics the minute they let out a cough.

Amelia
Amelia
2 years 4 months ago

I made the goat milk formula for my daughter since she was 3 weeks old until 18 months – she is healthy as a horse!!

PaleoDruid
PaleoDruid
2 years 4 months ago

I’d love to know how you avoided constipation. My daughter bound up tight on goat milk.

Amelia
Amelia
2 years 4 months ago

Hi PaleoDruid – I adapted the Sally Fallon recipe so she was also getting probiotics and lots of oils along with the goat milk. She was (and still is as a 5-year old) really a once-a-day pooper but she didn’t have constipation issues. Here’s how we did it: http://unmixedattention.blogspot.com/2010/07/homemade-baby-formula.html?m=1

Madeline
Madeline
2 years 4 months ago
I currently Breastfeed my 3 month old daughter. Due to some feeding difficulties we would like to supplement with formula. After learning that goats milk was closer to human milk I became interested in incorporating it into her diet around 6 months when we plan to start supplementing.So I started doing research, and I found the DIY recipe on Westin A. Price, but then read the quote below on a different MDA article “There are also recipes for homemade formula, but it’s crucial in these circumstances to consult your pediatrician. For newborns and young babies, I would recommend conventional formula… Read more »
Amelia
Amelia
2 years 4 months ago

Madeline (below) for some reason I can’t reply to your post so I’m replying to my own.

My only response is that I trusted my own instinct and wisdom.

Edmund Brown
Edmund Brown
2 years 4 months ago

Premastication – adults chewing foods like carrots and meats for their babies and toddlers can help seed the little one’s digestive tract. Of course, to do any good the adult needs to have beneficial bacteria residing in the mouth…

I do this for my 11 month old.

allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago
I did that as well for my second child. It just felt so amazingly natural. Really grossed out anybody that was watching. I did offer it to her with my hands, not like mouth to mouth like Alicia Silverstone who gained a lot of attention a few years ago in the news. It’s the best way out there to get meat into just the right size of pieces, extra chewing when she first started and not so much as she got older. I had to add so much liquid to make home made puree meat that it was very messy.… Read more »
allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago
This is not an issue of self-blame, so please don’t think that….it’s more of a scientific observation. I am quite sure that my absolutely horrible diet during my son’s pregnancy contributed to his autism. At the time I was eating extreme SAD, and sick pretty much the whole pregnancy. I could not breastfeed without extensive pain (internal.. it was not a latching issue). Then, he joined our horrible SAD way of eating until he was about 4 yrs of age and we made the diet/symptoms connection. At 3, my son was diagnosed with autism. We have had remarkable improvements with… Read more »
Shary
Shary
2 years 4 months ago
Allison, if a SAD prenatal diet were responsible for autism, half the world would be autistic. And it isn’t. I think you are beating yourself up for something your less-than-optimal diet very likely didn’t cause–and you shouldn’t be. The developing fetus will take whatever nutrition it requires, even at the expense of the mother’s health if necessary. Appropriate diet can and does help autistic children, but autism itself is caused by factors other than a poor prenatal diet. BTW, plain old carb-laden saltines have worked very well for millions of women during bouts of morning sickness with no ill effects… Read more »
Ed
Ed
2 years 4 months ago

The developing fetus can’t take nutrition that isn’t present.

Shary
Shary
2 years 4 months ago

Nonsense, Ed. Unless a woman is living in a place like Ethiopa or Sudan and literally starving to death from lack of any kind of food, nutrition for the fetus will be present within the mother’s body. There are very few people in industrialized nations that fall into a zero-nutrition category, even on what we term a SAD diet.

Ed
Ed
2 years 4 months ago

Nobody said anything about zero nutrition. Building a baby is a very intensive process that needs a lot of raw materials. Claiming that those raw materials are available in foods normally consumed by people following the SAD is painfully naive. If you feel that nutritional needs are met with the SAD, why are you even on this page?

Ed
Ed
2 years 4 months ago

For example, why are newborns given a Vitamin K shot as soon as they’re born? If the human species were prone to hemorrhaging upon healthy birth we’d be extinct by now. It’s because of a nutritional deficiency in the mother which is caused by her diet. Poor diet while pregnant (or poor health preceding the pregnancy) isn’t the only cause for developmental disorders, but it’s certainly not setting the baby up for success.

allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago

No, this is not a case of beating myself up. I said “contributed” to. In a case where a child is on the fence to becoming gut induced autistic then receives a blast of yeast and other un-optimal bacteria he will become autistic. This is how dietary changes can “fix” the child

allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago
So the child received less than optimal bacteria in the womb and vaginal birth, then does not receive much(or in many childrens cases, any) breast milk to promote good flora, then receives a diet of rice cereal (at least in my case I made home made meat, veggie and fruit baby food, but many just buy commercial foods). Then moves on to cows milk, macaroni and cheese, noodles, pizza, (trust me, our diet was the complete opposite of optimal)…. a child with genetic markers for autism doesn’t stand much of a chance. There may be holes in my theory, but… Read more »
allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago

Why do you think the rate of autism is increasing? Sure there is more diagnosis, but the fact is, so many parents out there now are loading themselves with high carb meals, have their own digestive issues, and then have children and pass on these same poor bacteria to their child.
That’s why autism is a 1st world affliction.

Sure, people think crackers work well…. but my personal opinion is that it will make them feel better for the moment and then contribute to more morning sickness.

Paul
Paul
2 years 4 months ago

For parents who complain about not having enough time to spend with their kids, to go play outside etc I really have to ask: if you’re so busy why bother having kids in the first place?? Make time, figure it out, you owe it to your kids!

Primal_alex
2 years 4 months ago

Thanks Mark. Please, more of these articles on primal babies/toddlers.

jamie
2 years 4 months ago

Be aware to not microwave breast milk as it has been shown to increase ecoli content as well as damage the probiotic content.

Rachel
Rachel
2 years 4 months ago

It’s unfair and unreasonable for mothers to decide eating carbs contributed to a child’s autism.

We don’t yet know what causes autisms to develop. But it doesn’t stop mothers being blamed or blaming themselves. What good does that do?

Anecdote isn’t data.
But for what it’s worth I conceived and grew my baby whilst low-carb/wheat/grain free, had a drug free home birth and skin to skin after. Exclusively breast fed until 6months. Weaned with organic meat and veg. Still breast feed him now aged 3.

He’s gorgeous. He’s healthy, bright and loving.
And he has high functioning autism.

Pip
Pip
2 years 4 months ago
Thank you for saying this. I have a similar situation, wheat and sugar free diet whilst pregnant, natural drug-free birth, breastfeeding etc and at one week old my son started screaming and barely stopped for 6 months. He was diagnosed with autism aged 3 and is now 5 years old. I could have blamed it on his less than optimal start on solid food (baby rice as recommended) if it hadn’t been for that initial screaming months when he was exclusively breastfed. Many mothers of diagnosed autistic children report that they were either unusually placid or extremely fretful as tiny… Read more »
allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago
In my case it is not an issue of blame. My opinion is formed by hours upon hours of research and other parents out there coming to the same conclusions about dietary influences on their children. Our very first inkling that diet may play a part was when we would run out of milk before the end of the week (we had pasteurized cows milk) and we could communicate with our child until we purchased more milk on Sunday. It took a long time to make that connection, and we decided to try him on no milk at all and… Read more »
Michele
2 years 4 months ago

Great points and topic. I know I can do a better job getting my 3 kids outside and in the dirt, good reminder. Also the antibiotic issue can’t be stressed enough! It seems like parents are often the ones asking for them “just in case” and not realizing what they are actually doing. I hope more doctors get on board with this. The tip of avoiding hand sanitizer is another good one. Germ phobia is really hurting us.

Aloka
2 years 4 months ago

Hi. I am raising my primal baby exactly this way. He is awesome healthy and growing beautifully.
I worry about my next baby though as I am just not in the best shape as I was pre pregnancy as I was with the first. I know my first baby had got the best health that I could offer and I’m trying to get healthier fitter and lose some weight before I get pregnant again but nothing seems to be working.

Jim
2 years 4 months ago
My incredibly healthy wife grew up on a farm in appalachia and “drank from the cowpond” when she got thirsty. She’s always said that “a kid needs to eat some dirt”. On the vaccine thing, a kid gets exposed to thousands of different antigens (foreign substances that elicit immunity) just living. A dozen more or less from vaccinations is maybe a one percent difference. As a doc I’ve seen the kids come in with the bad diseases: whooping cough, measles, etc. Are vaccines totally safe? of course not. NOTHING is totally safe. The odds are better for people who’ve been… Read more »
Jacob
Jacob
2 years 4 months ago
when I was a kid, we had a bath once a week. Washed our faces and hands daily but no lengthy daily showers. ( when I became teenagers I of course started showering every day ). We grew up in Poland before there was anything even remotely resembling ready made food. so everything was made from scratch. Although we had bread, it was covered in lard and bacon pieces instead of spreads. We bought our saurkraut from a barrel in a corner shop. Nothing was processed. I was outdoors most of the day eating bugs, getting dirty, picking up everything… Read more »
Jennifer L.
Jennifer L.
2 years 4 months ago

I think that’s your media speaking. I suspect most kids outside have a greater risk of getting stung by a bee than kidnapped by crazy, baby-snatching, human trafficing pedophiles. In a pinch, one could bring a bucket of dirt in the house for them to play in (just make sure to get the kind right next to the old house that has some extra lead in it). Phew! Growing up is rough these days.

Mus
Mus
2 years 4 months ago

Sorry I just had to comment. I laughed out very loud when you said im not recommending you make booger smoothies. Made my day

David Fyhrie
2 years 4 months ago
A great way to clear out the wrong pathogens and clear the slate for the good bacteria is to take Immunoglobulin Y which is the antibodies found in chicken egg yolk. While fighting off pathogens a hen’s immune system generates millions of antibodies and also puts them into the developing egg yolk for the chick to have when it’s born. Chicks obviously don’t breastfed and need an aggressive defense right away. The antibodies are also effective for roughly 450 different human related pathogens. This is another reason why eggs are good for you. However when eaten with the rest of… Read more »
Rob
Rob
2 years 4 months ago

There are a number of interesting studies regarding pets and the development of the immune system, especially with regard to exposure to allergens. It seems to be that kids, especially 1-2 years of age, that are growing up with animals can certainly can reap many benefits despite the “hygiene hypothesis” saying elsewise.

So there you have it, dog and cat lovers.

Leonie
Leonie
2 years 4 months ago
“Do not avoid c-sections if they are medically necessary” Thank you Mark 🙂 In response to several of the comments above… Instead of trying to make women who had c-sections feel guilty and suggesting what they ‘should’ have done to avoid it, try giving some helpful advice as to what they can do now. I ate (mostly!) primal before and during my pregnancy and had every intention of having an natural vaginal birth (and there was nothing to suggest I couldn’t), but things didn’t pan out that way. Thankfully I had done some reading about gut health and could be… Read more »
Charlie
Charlie
2 years 4 months ago

I agree with Leonie, I would love to know more positive things I can do to support my baby who had to be delivered by emergency c-section, despite having hoped for a homebirth (a hospital c-section was something I’d never wanted unless my baby was at risk). I already worry about enough things, it would be great to get more help and advice on what I can do now that my baby’s birth was out of my hands.

Christine
Christine
2 years 4 months ago
I didn’t read through the comments, so I hope it is not redundant to HIGHLY recommend “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care” by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, MD. I would call it THE #1 resource not only for healthy baby guts, but for everything from healthy fertility and conception to healthy pregnancy and birth to healthy adolescence. I don’t agree with all the parenting philosophies, but it has been my oft-consulted nutrition bible for my (home-birthed) one-year-old, and my lifeline for refusing conventional treatments at the doctor’s office (both for me during pregnancy AND… Read more »
Colin
2 years 4 months ago

Letting kids play outdoors and getting “dirty” is huge. Also, playing with other kids is a major part in the psychological development of the child.

I think this generation of kids is wayyy too coddled and I wonder if the next generation is gonna be a bunch of pansies…

Bryn
2 years 4 months ago

A really well thought-through piece, and now I won’t feel so grossed out when my son eats his booger because it is good for him!

allisonK
allisonK
2 years 4 months ago

Haha, I joke and go EWWW! when my daughter eats her boogers. Now she does it to make me have a reaction.
I don’t really care if she eats her own boogers, but I really don’t like it when she tries to feed them to me! lol

Queenbolete
Queenbolete
2 years 4 months ago

My suggestion is to not bathe that little newborn until the umbilical cord falls off and then not every day after. I don’t know if I only know this from my home birth midwives or if it is general knowledge. I was told to let the healthy bacteria do their good work. My last baby was a primal pregnancy and so far his first two years has been primal. He is a happy, healthy, brilliant, dirty child. His favorite treat is “watu keefu” water keefer”.

Natasha
Natasha
2 years 4 months ago

Most ear infections can be cured with hydrogen peroxide. A few drops in the ear a few times will kill off the infection. Much easier and cheaper. No need for dr appointment and antibiotics.

As a kid I was often on antibiotics for ear infections and strep throat. Too bad. Good news is my kids have never needed antibiotics for the rare ear infections they have had. (Not that I am against them, they are necessary in some cases)

Aurelie
Aurelie
2 years 4 months ago

I am the only one of the family who was born via (unnecessary ) C-section, I am also the only one who has celiac…….

Bharat
2 years 4 months ago

Breastfeed is necessary thing for each newborn as it give all the essential nutrients and help the child grow healthy.

msjake
msjake
2 years 4 months ago
A few questions/thoughts – My son was born naturally in a hospital. Because he had passes meconium before his birth, he was given IV antibiotics for 3 days after he was born. Would this have had any effect on his intestinal bacteria? He is 10 now and we have a lot of problems with his ADHD, he is very hyper and cannot focus without medication. I am working on his diet, cut WAY back on processed foods and sugars. No more cereal for breakfast, we have eggs and bacon or sausage, added organic yougart (made on a local farm, no… Read more »
Diana
Diana
2 years 4 months ago

You certainly do need to be shown how to breastfeed. My first child was born in an English military hospital in Germany and they had wonderful German nursery nurses and one showed me how to breastfeed. We were also in hospital for 10 days after our first birth and 7 days after the second one. Plently of time to sort out any problems with breastfeeding and no stress from other household chores.

haroldcrews
2 years 4 months ago

As far as cleaning around the house the parents should keep in mind that clean doesn’t mean sterile. Exposure to microbes should not be limited to outside.

Nicole
Nicole
2 years 4 months ago

We are getting ready to start our family, so posts like this are exactly what I’m looking for right now! Thanks, Mark!

Courtney
Courtney
2 years 4 months ago

Chiropractic for sure!!!

Traci
2 years 4 months ago

I would just add that fermented and cultured foods are a great way to boost their good gut bacteria. If your gut is balanced with good and bad bacteria, the need for sugar will be decreased. That’s a win win situation for your child!

Laura
Laura
2 years 3 months ago

“…dieting during a pregnancy can be hard on everyone involved and not generally recommended.”

A bit unhelpful. What if you switch to highly nutritious primal way of eating and happen to lose weight? You don’t need to ‘go on a diet’ to have fantastic results remember?

Alexandra Miser
Alexandra Miser
2 years 3 months ago
My daughter is eleven months old. I had a c-section 38 hours after my water broke and after an hour of pushing. The OB said her head was too big to fit through my pelvis, although the top of her head did squeeze through, the bottom of her head was stuck. I breastfed exusively for six months and she still gets 80-90% of her calories from breast milk. I only recently learned about the importance of babies getting bacteria from the birth canal. Is it too late for a probiotic to make a difference? Would she have still gotten bacteria… Read more »
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